NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Swab Summer has begun in New London for some 300 men and women who began their training as part of the incoming class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

You could say day one is a bit of a baptism by fire.

Right after their arrival, swabs are issued their uniforms, get haircuts, and jump right into drill practice.

This year, 43% of those arriving are women — the highest number in an incoming class ever.

38% are from underrepresented minority groups and nine are international students.

Swab Summer is an intense, seven-week training program designed to transform civilian students into military members who will be ready to accept the challenges that await them in their pursuit to become Coast Guard officers or ensigns.

“A little bit nervous, kind of waiting to see what the rest of the day is going to be like,” said Arwen Wise from Fort Worth, Texas, who was accepted to four services academies and chose the Coast Guard. “Biggest challenge is probably just getting accustomed to yelling and having to yell back.”

“They are Swab last name. No longer their first names for now. They have to square to a certain way of walking, a certain way of eating. We tell them when to eat, drink, sleep…,” said Hanna Apelizan, a 2nd class cadet and cadre for one of the platoons.

On the first day, there is one book in everyone’s hand: The Running Light training handbook. They need to know everything in it.

“It has all their basic knowledge and indoctrination to not just get through the summer but get through the school year as well,” Apelizan said.

Only a select few are admitted and this summer will help them know if they are up for the challenge. The acceptance rate is 20.1%.

“I’m extremely happy to be here. I can’t wait for what we’ll be doing,” Wise said.

Once the Swabs survive seven weeks of intense training, they officially become cadets of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and then they have four more years of training and education to complete.